Archive for May, 2019


I know Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. is the unofficial start to the summer season. Only it actually feels like summer at my house. Here we are, for the second weekend in a row, sweating our butts off because it’s too hot for this time of year, and the a/c is not yet fixed. Turns out the motor we were told to order was not the right size, and the one we actually need is on back-order. Ugh. First I thought, hey, no problem, I’ll just catch up on the magazines that came this week, and the Sunday paper, do a couple of chores and some writing until the thunderstorms in our forecast get here and cool it down.

( thermometer with hot temperature – Depositphotos )

It was a good plan. Except we haven’t gotten any of those storms allegedly headed our way, and it is almost 90. Windows are open, but that just lets more hot air in, and it doesn’t move well through the house because of the layout of the windows–except for the kitchen and the front door, no windows on the back of the house align with any on the front of the house. None. So the fans don’t help either. So I’ve mostly spent my afternoon hot and cranky while weeding out the week’s magazines and the paper, and not written a single word because I can’t get in the right mind-set. And not done my chores either, because they involve hot water. Nope.

So before I go hunt down a couple of sugar-free popsicles, I have a little story snippet for you, this time from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi kept up her steady pace as they trekked farther into the forest. The sounds of the birds and chattering squirrels kept them company, as they had for the past two hours. He didn’t try to carry on a conversation with her while they walked. He was clearly accustomed to physical activity.

Which meant she’d have a harder time than she’d anticipated in ditching him.

Not that she’d imagined it would be easy.

Nothing could possibly be easy about this. Her luck clearly didn’t run in that direction.

She paused to take a sip of water from the bottle she’d tucked into the side of her backpack, and he stopped beside her. Warmth spread up her spine, and she frowned into the bottle she held. Stop it. He was not potential mate material, no matter how happy her hormones were when he was near.

“All right?” He took a quick drink from his own water, his arm brushing hers as he did so.

She shifted her weight onto her other foot, away from him. “Fine.”

He met her gaze.

Her pulse skipped.

“I know you don’t want to trust me, but you can. On this, you can.”

It sounded like a vow, she thought, panic making her heart beat faster. She didn’t want to believe him.

But on this one thing, she realized she did. Of course she did. Even though she hadn’t wanted to, she’d trusted him not to kill her after they’d made their bargain for the scissors. He’d earned it.

She swallowed, her mouth dry, and lifted her water bottle to her lips again, giving herself a distraction from the intensity in his green eyes.

He sighed, then took another drink.

Andi closed her eyes briefly, girding herself, and capped her bottle. The next stretch would be more of a challenge. Maybe this would be where her luck changed.

Or not.

Two hours later, she panted softly, her heart pounding hard as she put one hand on the nearest tree trunk and dropped her head to pour the rest of her lukewarm water over the back of her neck.

Straight up the side of the mountain, and he was still not doing more than breathing hard, the bastard.

She felt her backpack shift, and glanced to the side.

“Getting you another drink.” He tugged a bottle out and then rezipped her pack.

She mumbled her thanks and chugged down half the bottle in one go. Then turned in time to see his throat working as he swallowed the last of his bottle. His skin glistened with sweat, muscles beneath shifting and making her want to touch. With her fingers, her tongue.

She inhaled slowly and looked away again. It seemed she was stuck with him. At least for now.

He touched her arm, and she lifted her gaze. “Do you want a break?”

She shook her head. “Not if we want to get there before dark.”

He frowned. “What if I think you need a break?”

Andi felt a little surge of annoyance. “You’re not my father.”

“Thank Goddess,” he muttered, brushing away a drop of perspiration from her temple.

She blushed.

“Andrea, I’m just trying to point out, and obviously badly, you had a really rough day yesterday, and maybe you should take it a little easier than you have so far today.”

“I’m sorry.” She took a drink from the fresh bottle. “I haven’t had to run for my life before, and I’m not used to requiring help, and apparently, neither is sitting well.”

Kallan smiled a little, and his fingers slid down to the corner of her mouth. “Apology accepted.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose lightly, startling her.

She resisted the urge to shift her head so their mouths would meet. Instead, she put her bottles away and adjusted her pack on her shoulders. “The next leg should be easier.”

He gave her a knowing smile, but kept his mouth shut.

And she found herself smiling back.

Stupid.

But her smile didn’t fade as quickly this time.

As she walked, more slowly now, she let her mind drift to what it would be like to actually have a real relationship again. If she could ignore the fact he’d come to kill her, there were other aspects of the past few days she could get used to. Like having someone to talk to who didn’t think she was a complete nutcase. Like having someone who not only believed in the myths that shaped her life, but had also been influenced by them. Like the smoking-hot sex.

She fanned herself a little.

“You all right?”

Heat climbed her throat. “Still cooling down from that last segment,” she called back over her shoulder. “Jackass,” she added under her breath.

She resolved to think of nothing but getting to safety for now. Getting distracted by wishing for things she knew she could never have wouldn’t keep her safe from Kallan’s cousin.

Andi froze in mid-stride, her heart thundering in her chest suddenly, and it wasn’t from exertion this time. Her gaze stuck on the dark, shiny creature lying across their path, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

His hands landed on her shoulders. “What?”

“S-snake,” she whispered.

“Are you kidding?” He moved to stand beside her, and looked into her face. “You’re serious,” he said after a couple seconds, a grin tugging at his mouth. He glanced to the trail ahead and started to laugh. “It’s only a garter snake.”

Andi ground her teeth together, heat climbing her neck to her face, but not in a good way now. Just because that damned Athena had cursed her to sprout snakes on her head every month didn’t mean she liked them.

He laughed until she wanted to hit him. Or better yet, turn him to stone. Too bad she wasn’t PMSing anymore.

Not looking at Kallan, she folded her arms and waited for the snake to finish slithering across the path.

Still chuckling, he gestured to the trail ahead. “All clear.”

She hated him. Sticking her chin in the air, she marched past him, barely resisting the urge to smack him as she went. She consoled herself with that mental image for a few minutes, of punching him square in the nose. Or mouth. Maybe knocking the smug grin off his face. Drawing blood would be good. She curled her fingers into fists at her sides as she went, only vaguely aware of him close on her heels.

After a while, though, she grew more aware of his nearness, as the forest darkened around them. His heat was within reach, if she stopped and stretched out her arm. Not that she would. Especially not now.

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Now that I’m reading that, I think it would have been better if I grabbed a winter scene from the second in the Medusa trilogy, or maybe from one of the shifter stories, to cool things down. Well, too late now.

How are you staying cool on this long weekend? Or are you where it is too cool and you’d rather it was warmer?

 

 

 

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( Vintage pitcher of lemonade )

It feels like summer here this weekend, and I am not happy about that. Not at all, especially since our spring so far has consisted mostly of rain, rain, and more rain, with some chilly days in between. I’m not surprised, this is, after all, Pennsylvania, but I am disappointed. And worried this year will be like last year, with record rain (we’re already ahead of last year in this neck of the woods with precipitation), and hot weather in between. None of us enjoyed last summer, except maybe the water birds that live around the pond near my day-job office. This weekend has been even more unbearable, because we’re waiting for a new motor for our central air conditioning unit, so the inside temp right now is 84 degrees (down from 86 earlier when it was 89 outside). It’s actually a few degrees cooler outside since clouds started bubbling up. I was hoping for a good, cooling thunderstorm, but it doesn’t seem like I’m getting that wish granted. Sleeping will be a challenge tonight.

The good news is that by the time it gets this warm again next weekend, the new a/c motor will be installed and I can stay comfortable while I write. Or, rather, I can stay comfortable while I write after getting home from some day-job OT. And I will definitely appreciate the a/c being functional. I don’t know how my sister puts up with the hot and humid weather down South where she lives.

Right now, I’m taking a short break from writing, but am getting ready to dive back in. Before I go, I have a little snippet of story to share with you from my fifth shifter manuscript.

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Piper swallowed hard as she nodded. “Thank you,” she managed. She got to her feet and pretended not to notice the slight hesitation before the older woman shook her outstretched hand.

She walked out of the office, listening to the panicked beat of her pulse in her ears. No job, no rent, no food, no prospects. She ducked out of the cold, misty rain under the battered metal awning of a café and took a slow breath.

She’d be fine. She would find something. Soon. She took another deep breath and let it slowly out. Some of her panic dissipated. Or she could pretend it had. She tucked her coat tighter under her chin, then paused when the faded orange and black window sign caught her eye.

Help wanted. She looked inside the dusty window, into the dingy restaurant. She’d never waited tables before, but if it meant Keely had a roof over her head and food to eat, Piper could do anything.

Gathering her nerve, she pushed the door open. Pocked linoleum squeaked under her wet shoes, and she looked around. It was worse than it had appeared from outside–peeling vinyl stools at the old-fashioned counter and orange bench seats even more faded than the window sign bracketed the booths along the wall.

An older woman emerged from a dented silver swinging door, balancing two plates and a coffee pot. “Sit anywhere. I’ll be with you in a second,” she said as she hustled past.

Piper opened her mouth to speak, then shut it. Instead, she perched on the edge of the first stool at the counter, heart drumming against her ribs.

The other woman breezed to a stop beside her a few seconds later. “What can I get you?”

“I saw the sign in the window.”

The waitress’s eyebrows went up. “Really?” She studied Piper for a moment. “Well, Dave won’t be in till Friday. You’ll have to come back then.”

Two days. “Okay,” she said. “What time will he be in?”

The waitress’s mouth thinned a little. “Probably not till after the breakfast rush. You wait tables before?”

“No, but I learn fast.”

The other woman’s gaze slid over her again, slower, before landing on her face. “It’s part time, pay’s shit.” Sympathy softened her tone as she named a figure.

Piper tried to hide her dismay at the low number. “I need the job,” she whispered.

“Then come back Friday to see Dave.” She patted Piper’s arm and disappeared into the kitchen again.

Piper pushed to her feet and straightened her shoulders. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d had a job she didn’t like, but she’d do just about anything to keep food in her daughter’s belly and a roof over her head. Waiting tables in a crummy diner wasn’t the worst possibility.

“Hey, hon!”

She turned back from the door to face the waitress, who held out a brown paper lunch bag. “Oh, but–”

“Take it.” The older woman smiled a little. “I hope you find something better.”

Piper’s eyes burned as she took the warm bag. “Thank you.”

The waitress patted her arm again. “It’s nothin’. Eat it while it’s hot.” She bustled away to a table crowded with several old men.

Piper cradled the bag to her chest and went out into the chilly mist again, before she started to cry. She hadn’t done that in a long time, and she didn’t have time now for the indulgence. Instead she inhaled the scent of meatloaf and spices from the bag and straightened her spine. She had to find a job.

By the time she trudged up the cracked cement steps of her apartment building two hours later, the bag was cold, and so were her fingers and nose. No respectable shifter business would hire her, thanks to her stupid brother, and none of the human businesses she’d ventured into were interested in her either.

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Funny how that is story #5 when I started out planning only 3, and this one was supposed to be the third. Anyway, I’m back to my other project while I hope the thunder starting to rumble nearby is bringing a good breeze to cool things down. And, failing that, maybe have a little ice cream.

( Close up of ice cream – Depositphotos )

 

 

( chocolate cheesecake – Dreamstime )

It is Mother’s Day here today. I’ve already had a visit from and meal with my boys, which was lovely. I also know I’m lucky that happens, and that not every mom is that lucky, so I am extra-appreciative for my own kids, and that they’re close enough to get here regularly.

I have a little story snippet from my first tiger shifter story to share with you today.

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Harley tapped on the door before he turned the knob. “Mom?”

“In the kitchen, Harley.”

He moved inside, noting the drawn curtains in the living room and dining room. But bright sunlight came from the end of the hallway, and when he got to the archway, he saw his mother working at the wide island, rolling out a piece of dough.

“Hi, honey.” She smiled up at him while he stepped fully into the room. “How are you?”

He bent to kiss her cheek. “Okay. What are you making?”

“Chicken pot pie. I got hungry for it weeks ago, but it was too hot for the oven. Sit. I’ll get you some lemonade.”

He sat on one of the stools across from her. “I’m good, Mom.”

“So what brings you here today? Playing hooky?” She wrapped the dough carefully around her rolling pin to transfer it to her baking dish.

“Kind of.” He leaned his elbows on the counter.

“And you’re here and not stalking Tessa?” She slanted him a teasing glance.

Heat climbed the back of his neck. “Something like that.” He rubbed one hand along the side of his face.

One of her brows lifted. “What did you do?”

He frowned, ignoring the twinge of guilt in his belly. “Why does it have to be me?”

She smiled, a secretive, knowing smile. “Men are all very alike in some ways.”

“You know, if a man said that about women, we’d be called chauvinistic.”

Her smile widened. “What did you do, Harley?”

He stifled the impulse to squirm on his seat. “I might have pulled a caveman. But I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Ah, an accidental caveman.” She didn’t look at him, instead chopping several potatoes swiftly, though her mouth twitched at the corners, as if she were stifling impulses of her own.

Harley sighed. “I wanted to take her away this weekend, but I should have gone about it differently. Then I went to her office earlier to take her for a long lunch. She told me to leave.”

“Because you demanded she just drop everything?” His mother’s tone was innocent, but her eyes gleamed with laughter.

“Something like that.” He sighed.

“Well, you’d do better to be there, trying to make things right with Tessa than sitting here in my kitchen, moping.”

“Easier said than done.”

“Did you come for sympathy or advice? Hand me the parsley.”

He handed over the cluster of green leaves. “Yes.”

She didn’t restrain her laugh this time. “Honey, you did this to yourself, so it’s difficult to muster up much sympathy. As for advice, well, I don’t think you really need that either. You know what you need to do.”

He watched her smooth, quick motions as she chopped the herbs into her chicken and vegetables. She was right. But he’d run out of patience, waiting to see if Tessa would admit to her feelings, would talk about a future with him. Instead, she kept talking about her new job, and he’d lost his grip on his patience.

His mother tapped his wrist, and he glanced over to see her holding a cookie.

“It’s not quite the same as a bloody knee or a fat lip, but cookies make everything better.”

He took it, smiling in spite of himself. “Not everything, you know.” He bit into it–chunks of chocolate and pieces of walnut. “Mm. I could be wrong.”

She laughed again and put another round piece of dough on top of her potpie. “Why don’t you bring Tessa by for dinner? If I don’t have company, this will be here forever.”

“If I can get her to speak to me again, I will.” He polished off the rest of the cookie. “Are there more of these?”

His mother put the baking dish in the oven. “Yes, but your issue isn’t dire enough for two.” She straightened up. “Go find Tessa and fix things, then let me know about dinner.”

“Can there be cookies for dessert?” He pushed off the stool.

“No. I’ve got something better for dessert.” She tilted her head so he could kiss her cheek. “I love you, Harley.”

“I know, Mom. I love you, too.” He gave her a quick hug, too. “I’ll call you later.”

She smiled, and he left the kitchen, thinking.

It wasn’t a matter of ‘finding’ Tessa. He knew exactly where she was. It was more a matter of finding the right way to apologize to her. He should be almost an expert at it by now.

He steered the car toward the zoo, his stomach tightening the closer he got. Nervousness. He’d never been nervous about a woman before Tessa. He knew she had feelings for him, but it seemed she had no intention of admitting to them.

That stung, but he’d deal with it. Eventually, she’d let her guard down. But right now, he needed to make sure she knew how truly sorry he was about that morning.

Flowers? Maybe not for this.

He frowned as he thought. Maybe if he crawled and begged, he mused darkly.

Then the sign at the next crossroad made him slam on the brakes and execute a quick turn. The gift shop at the stables had exactly what he needed.

          #          #          #

When Harley strode into her office wearing donkey ears, Tessa laughed before she knew she meant to, then clapped her hand over her mouth, trying to muster up a glare.

He plopped down beside her desk on his knees, and she gaped at him. “I acted like an ass this morning,” he began, making her swallow back another laugh, “and I am sorrier than you can imagine. Please forgive me, Tessa.”

She still felt the urge to laugh, to at least snicker at how ridiculous he looked, but another part of her recognized what a big deal it was that he’d come here like this. She wondered if he’d signed in at the reception desk wearing the ears.

And he waited, not looking the least bit embarrassed about the tall grey ears he’d put on. Jackass, indeed.

Tessa sighed. “Oh, Harley.”

He held her gaze, patient, though worry lurked in the depths of his golden eyes.

How could she not? “Yes.”

He grabbed her arm first, then, when she tipped forward in her seat, her waist, to pull her into his arms, burying his face in her throat. “I am so sorry, honey.”

One of his fake ears rubbed against her nose, and she reached to move it out of her face. The entire headband came off, and she chuckled. “Where on earth did you find those?”

“Don’t lose it,” he mumbled, his lips brushing her collarbone, “I might need them again.”

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Now I’m off to spend some time writing. I hope you’re all doing something you love today, too!

 

 

 

That is my goal for the week, to be writing if I’m not working. I need to make some better progress toward my writing goals for this year, so I’m putting it out there into the world so I have to be more accountable to someone besides myself.

I need to wrap up this novella this week, one way or another. And come up with a title, which I am terrible at. I do think I’ve found the cover art, though, so at least that’s something. And I’m using the pic below as inspiration to get to ‘The End’ this week.

 

( Romantic couple at sunset – Depositphotos )

Before I get back to work, how about a little snippet of story? Maybe from something else I’m behind on, like my third shifter story?

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The drive from the office to Baron’s school took fifteen minutes on a good day, so on a busy Friday afternoon, it took twenty-seven. Not counting the three additional minutes it took to find a place to park.

He climbed out of the car and waited until a shiny mini-van sped by with no regard for the other parents and children in the parking lot before he crossed, weaving around parents leading their children out–parents who had taken into account the Friday traffic and arrived early. He checked in at the security gate, and then entered the school grounds. Pandemonium. Children running around, shouting, laughing, parents calling for their kids, teachers attempting to corral some rowdies.

Knowing his son, he wouldn’t have hurried out in the first rush. Baron dawdled.

A screech to his left had him turning in time to see a little red-haired girl leap onto her father’s back.

Boris turned to search for Baron, and a flutter of green caught his eye–a loose blouse on a curvy brunette.

Then she pivoted, laughing at the small girl holding her hand, and Bori’s heartbeat quickened–Vivi.

The breeze caught a school identification tag hung around her neck and her blouse again, this time, pressing the garment tight to her, and revealing the unmistakable curve of her belly. Her pregnant belly. It was small, but he knew what that curve meant.

And it was just about the right size…

Vivi’s smile faded as her head came up, and she sniffed the air delicately. Her gaze swung over the crowd of children, and locked on his face. All of the color faded from her cheeks, and her eyes widened.

He watched the child beside her tug on her hand, and Vivi bent back to her for a second, then, reluctance lining her face, released the girl, who leaped into another woman’s arms. Vivi straightened slowly, and he strode through the throng of kids toward her.

Alarm darkened her eyes, and she glanced around, as if thinking of fleeing.

Not a chance.

Three more strides put him in front of her. Her shoulders set, and her wary gaze crawled up to his face.

“Vivi, how nice to see you,” he said softly. He leaned closer and sniffed–the same delicious, earthy scent he remembered, along with a fainter undertone of his own familiar scent. His baby.

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So what are you working on this week, that you need some additional motivation or accountability to complete? Let me know, and I can cheer you on, too.

( Dream Plan Work Make it Happen – Depositphotos )